Why Is My Child So Hyper?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on July 23, 2021
3 min read

Your child is a bundle of energy for a number of reasons, and there's a lot you can do to help calm things down.

If your child is hyper, it could be because they're just a kid. It's normal for children of all ages to have lots of energy.

Preschoolers, for instance, can be very active -- they often move quickly from one activity to another. Older kids and teens are also energetic and don't have the same attention span as adults.

If your child's hyper behavior regularly causes a problem in the classroom, with homework, or with friendships and relationships, check with their pediatrician.

It's natural to wonder if ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) could be the cause of your child's high energy. But just being hyper doesn't necessarily mean your child has the condition.

Watch out for these other signs of ADHD:

  • Do they interrupt frequently?
  • Do they have trouble following instructions and organizing tasks?
  • Are they forgetful?
  • Are they impatient?
  • Do they frequently speak out of turn?

If your child has ADHD, these problems will happen over a long period of time, and usually at home as well as school.

If ADHD is the cause of your child being hyper, some studies do show that the condition tends to run in families.

There may be certain genes that make it more likely for people to develop ADHD.

"My son ate all his leftover Halloween candy and now he's bouncing off the walls!"

Have you ever said something like that? Many people think there's a link between being hyper and eating sugar, but research doesn't back that up. Several studies tested behavior and learning in children given sugar vs. a sugar substitute, and found no difference.

Other studies found that parents who think their children have eaten sugar rate their behavior as more hyper than parents who think their children have had a non-sugar substitute.

This doesn't mean it's a good idea to let your child gorge on sugar, of course, but cutting it from their diet probably won't end the problem.

OK, so sugar isn't doing it. But could artificial colors, dyes, or other additives cause your child to be hyper?

For most kids, the answer is probably no. But some studies show that a small percentage of children with ADHD may be sensitive to some of these additives.

If you think this might be the case, you could try an "elimination diet." Cut out sources of artificial additives like candy, fruit drinks, soda, brightly-colored cereals, and junk food, and see if you notice any behavior changes.

Sometimes too much noise and activity in your home can make it hard for your child to relax.

For instance, too much family conflict, such as arguments, can cause stress. So can chaotic schedules and lack of sleep.

So try to keep the atmosphere as calm as possible. And leave a place on your calendar for family time. Sometimes, a child who's acting hyper needs some quiet, close time with mom or dad. Cuddle up on the couch with a blanket and read to your child to help calm things down.

Kids can get restless if they don't get enough physical activity to burn off their energy. You can help your child get the exercise they need, though. For instance, take your family for a nature walk or hike. Or go bike riding or play tag in the front yard.

If you have a yard, set up a safe space to play, such as a sandbox.